UKZN’s African Paediatric Fellowship Programme (APFP) is building sustainable multidisciplinary child health capacity for Africa.
The APFP equips doctors with the specialist and sub-specialist skills and knowledge they need through a complementary fellowship scheme. The fellowships are delivered through a collaborative arrangement between UKZN’s Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, paediatric sub-specialties at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), and General Paediatrics at the UKZN Teaching Hospitals complex.
The Discipline’s curricula and practice-based learning are tailored to address the child health priorities and capacity-building needs identified by the University’s African partner hospitals and provincial and national health departments. Fellows return to their home countries with new skills, knowledge and qualifications and go on to lead important developments in child health systems and services throughout Africa.
Co-funded by ELMA Philanthropies and the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), the APFP currently has 16 fellows; seven funded by ELMA, six by HWSETA and three self-funded.
The programme celebrated a significant milestone with the graduation of Dr Bongiwe Mbatha, a Paediatric Neurologist who completed her subspecialty training and has joined the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital team. This achievement highlights the pivotal role of the APFP in equipping doctors with specialised skills to address the critical healthcare needs of children, not only in the province but also throughout South Africa.
Dr Velephi Okello, the Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Eswatini, visited the UKZN-APFP and applauded the quality of training Swazi students receive at UKZN. He expressed keen interest in fostering collaboration between UKZN and the Eswatini government to create more opportunities for Swazi students. Such partnerships have the potential to strengthen the paediatric care landscape in Eswatini, while also contributing to the broader goal of enhancing child health in Africa.
The APFP’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of paediatric subspecialists and its dedication to addressing pressing child health needs are evident in the remarkable achievements of its graduates. Through partnerships and shared visions, it is not only shaping the future of paediatric healthcare but also reinforcing the importance of collaboration and training in improving the lives of children in South Africa and beyond. As the programme continues to grow and evolve, it is poised to make an even more significant impact on the healthcare landscape across the continent.
Words: Lawrence Mubaiwa
Photograph: Nkosikhona Gcabashe